Bathurst Harbour and Maatsuyker Island

Dawn leaving at Spain Bay

Laurie had told us the night before that he was going to leave very early in the morning. Grant and I preferred a slightly later start, we left about 7.00am in dull overcast conditions. We met Laurie at Island Bay before continuing in close to the shore. We stopped for a while at McKays Gulch to chat to a lone fisherman relaxing on deck while the rest of the crew were dropping craypots from a dinghy.

SW Cape

Then we were close to the cape. Swells were still low and wind was non existent so we could keep in close to the warm red cliffs. Rounding the cape took quite a while because we all wanted photos' and video of ourselves and others at this special place for sea kayakers. (the Cape Horn of Australia). In fact this was the calmest any of us had ever seen this part of the coast. Usually you have to stand a fair way out to sea, avoiding the big rebound swell.

Laurie in close, SW Cape

Sea kayaking in these waters is always somewhat unpredictable. A couple of years before Karen and Dan Trotter had commented on the frighteningly huge waves in this area. They were paddling at exactly the same time of year. In fact they had to abandon their circumnavigation of Tasmania not long after rounding the cape. They completed the trip in the following year.

Fishing boat, SW Cape

Although this area is relatively isolated we weren't alone on the Southern Ocean. This was my fourth rounding of the cape but certainly the easiest. A friendly fisherman waved to us as we paused to savour the moment. This would not have happened in the past. We were often berated for being out here in those stupid little boats. Fortunately this ignorance of the potential of sea kayaks has all but disappeared.

Toasting the event, SW Cape

A little later, Grant and I stopped to carry out a custom that has developed to celebrate significant seakayaking achievements. Out came the bottle of Coke for a celebratory toast to the successful rounding of the cape. From here we could look along the eastern and western coasts of Tasmania.

Landing in surf, Ketchem Bay

Laurie had kept close in coming round the cape and we had lost sight of him.There was no problem in weather like this, we were heading for Ketchem Bay. We landed first and carried our now much lighter double up the beach. Some time later Laurie appeared and I got some nice video of him coming in through some small surf, sails up.

Coxs' Bluff from Ketchem Bay

I was pleased to be able to show Laurie and Grant just how nice Ketchem Bay is on a nice day. The clear, clean waters, golden sands and ideal campsite in amongst the Banksia bushes, next to the waterfall and small lagoon. Through a gap in the ridge to our east you could see the stark, rocky sides of Cox's Bluff. I strolled along the beach meeting a young bushwalking couple who had just crossed from Cox's Bight.

Ketchem Bay

As I sat on the banks of the small stream that curled round the beach I thought of how perfect a place this was for a honeymoon couple. Mick and Lisa had come here for a somewhat belated honeymoon some years ago. Of all the location I have been to sea kayaking this one is something special. I can still taste the freshy cooked crayfish that Mick, Ian and I ate on our 1990 trip to Bathurst Harbour.

Sunrise, Ketchem Bay

Wednesday dawned clear and calm. the weather forecast was for very hot northerlies and for awhile it looked as though they were right. Although it stayed calm a light S Easterly kept us cool and allowed some sailing. Today we wanted to get to Deadmans Cove. It was our second last day of the trip. Funny how going back always seems less challenging than the outgoing journey.

Laurie sailing, Coxs' Bluff

For awhile we sailed in the light breezes towards Cox's Bluff. Previously we had stood out some distance from this imposing bluff but today we would be able to explore in close.

Sea Cave, Coxs' Bluff

At the end of Cox's Bluff we dicovered a huge sea cave running right through the tip. We went through it several times getting good photo's and video of the emerald green waters inside the cave. Then we went inside Louisa Island, having to drag our kayaks over the sandspit between the island and the shore. Grant and I stopped for lunch here while Laurie pottered on to Deadmans Cove.

Rudder repairs, Deadmans Cove

The stainless steel lower bracket on the double fractured as we approached Deadmans, fortunately in the calm conditions it wasn't too much of a problem. Grant had a bit of a tough time keeping the kayak on course, particularly since his bum was feeling the strain of 12 days at sea. We repaired the bracket at Deadmans and it lasted until we got back.

Leaving Deadmans Cove

Thursday was our last day on the trip. Initially it was sunny but as a cold front crossed our path, near Hen Island, it started to drizzle. Grant wanted to stop at the island to give his backside a rest. This meant that Laurie, who had set of earlier, was well in front. He was well out to sea and we didn't notice him until our paths converged at Prettys Point.

Jeff, Laurie and Grant

The three of us had been fortunate with the weather. We had covered nearly 500km of interesting coastline, visiting places rarely seen by bushwalking visitors to the south west wilderness. Each year, at Christmas time the Maatsuyker Canoe Club organises an extended trip to get away from it all. I personally find this one of the few ways of ensuring that I have a complete break from an otherwise hectic schedule.

Jeff, easy as pissing on yourself, South Cape Rivulet

We called into South Cape Rivulet, mainly to take some video for Tobys' sake. On our last trip here he had almost drowned after being dumped in storm waves while trying to land. This time it was a piece of cake, or as Toby would say, it was as easy as pissing on yourself!

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